By Steve Keating
DOHA (Reuters) – Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich overcame extreme heat and humidity to win the world championship midnight marathon on Friday, in a gruelling test of survival that saw nearly a third of the 70 starters fail to reach the finish line.
Chepngetich, who has clocked the third fastest marathon of all-time, did not come close to matching that in the punishing conditions. Her winning time of two hours, 32 minutes, 43 seconds was the slowest ever to win the world championships.
Still, it was enough for a comfortable victory over Bahrain’s defending world champion Rose Chelimo, who settled for silver crossing more than a minute adrift.
Namibia’s Helalia Johannes completed the podium taking the bronze.
With the first gold medal of the championships up for grabs the women stepped up to the start line ready to tackle a steamy 26.2 miles (42.195 km) floodlit course along the waterfront of Doha’s famous Corniche promenade.
The race scheduled to begin one minute before midnight on Friday and finish in the early hours of Saturday saw the field head out right on the stroke of 12.
The midnight start tempered the sting of a searing sun but with that temperature sitting at 32.7C and the humidity index at 73% the conditions were right on the limit of what the IAAF said were allowable.
(Reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Daniel Wallis)